When you think of branding, you may think simply of your business logo or the materials you use to market your business. In truth, branding is so much bigger than that.
Your brand is essentially what your company would be if it were a person.
The reality is, people do not connect with businesses or products, they connect with people. In fact, our drive to connect with people is so strong, that we even engage in a practice called “anthropomorphizing.” This means that we even give human traits and characteristics to inanimate objects or pets or other animals. Our need for connection is so strong that anthropomorphizing actually allows us to create those connections with inanimate objects when we have no one else around to connect with. Think of Tom Hanks’ relationship with a volleyball he named Wilson in the movie Castaway. His connection to the volleyball, and his believe in that connection, was so strong that he even got in a fight with it. While (hopefully) few people will every have this strong of a connection to your brand, the truth is the whole purpose of branding in the first place is to create connection.
Here are 3 keys to building a strong small business brand.
1. Define Your Brand
You can’t communicate your brand to others if you don’t even know who or what your brand is yourself. So first, you have to define it. Remember, the more well-defined your brand is, the better you will be able to communicate that brand across all platforms and the more uniform you can make your messaging.
You may have entire teams of people creating various materials for your brand. The more crystal-clear the picture or image of your brand is, the more multiple people will be able to create messaging that is relentlessly in keeping with your brand.
2. Match Your Brand With Your Target Audience
Some of the largest brands on the planet, from Apple to Nike to Martha Stewart actually cater to a very narrow and specific audience. But they do it so utterly relentlessly that they amass an almost cult-like following.
If you read almost any review of any Apple product at any time it will invariably be either a glowing or an utterly scathing review. This is because what all of these brands understand is that the more one segment of the market loves you, the more another will utterly loathe you.
There are actually two ways to create a specific brand to reach a specific audience. You can either decide who your target market is and then design exactly the brand most likely to appeal to them, or create a solid, comprehensive brand and then target the audience it is most likely to appeal to. When you know exactly who and what your brand is, you will also know exactly who that brand is most likely to appeal to – and who it is not.
What this will also tell you is exactly what the best tools will be to connect with your target audience. Whether it is a specific platform or specific locations you want to place your branding, technology is what helps you communicate your brand to the world. Knowing what your brand is will also help you decide on which tech tools to use.
3. Remain Relentlessly Consistent
Some of the most successful brands on the planet got to be that way because they are relentless in their brand messaging. From the design aesthetics of their stores to their packaging materials to even the way their offices are designed. Every, single, solitary last detail is relentlessly designed to be a smooth, streamlined part of the whole. While you may not have the ability to be quite so relentlessly meticulous as a small business owner, the truth is, every detail matters.
Keep in mind, you are also your biggest brand ambassador. Everything about you matters as well. From the car that you drive to the way you wear your hair, all of these details will have an impact on your business and should actually be in alignment with your branding.
If your brand is smooth, sleek and sophisticated, you can’t show up to meetings looking frumpy and disheveled. Again, Apple’s branding is utterly relentless and permeates every single nook and cranny of the company, from the chairs they use in their offices to the chips they use in their computers. All of which, are a direct reflection of the #1 driving force behind the company: Steve Jobs himself.
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of branding in growing a business. In many ways your branding is your identity as a business. You can’t reach an audience or market if you don’t know who you are.